Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 02/11/09


Artist's Statement

It goes without saying that drugs are bad and that we at The Pain do not in any way condone their abuse. Let the record show that the hooch did William Faulkner’s prose, health, and complexion no favors, and he ended up cowering from invisible dive-bombing Jerries; that Miles Davis mostly sat around watching TV while on heroin and only returned to making music after successfully kicking it; and that as Chancellor of Germany Adolf Hitler made some very poor policy and strategic decisions, at least some of which might be attributed to the daily injections of amphetaimes his doctor had him on after ’42 or so, and that the bad end to which he ultimately came was a direct result of his own poor judgment. Among others, he committed the most famous of the classic blunders: Never Get Involved in the Land War in Asia. A textbook meth-head move. In a clichéd denoument straight out of so many drug education filmstrips, he ended up shooting his wife and himself in an underground bunker while the Russian army closed in around his crumbling empire and his body was doused in gasoline and set on fire, and now he is the most hated person in world history. "You see? You see what happens, Larry? This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass." -Walter Sobchak.

Nevertheless, I felt a faint echo of the at-first-bemused-then-increasingly-alarmed disbelief, that creeping disconnect from consensual reality, that I felt back during the darkest days of the Bush administration when I read the recent expressions of what I can only assume was 100% pro forma outrage and remorse over the Michael Phelps “scandal.” Is this really national news--“23-YEAR-OLD MAN SMOKES POT”? (It reminds me of a time when my friend Boyd mocked my namby-pamby fears of getting somehow busted for an ill-advised fling: “What kind of 'scandal' are you imagining--‘MAN FUCKS WOMAN!’?”) Who, exactly, is shocked by this revelation—eight-year-olds? Do eight-year-olds control the culture now? Do we all have to pretend we have the moral sensibilities of eight-year-olds for their benefit? And why aren’t we all publicly reviling and shunning the real villain in this story, the loathsome little tattle who sold the photo?

Also, not sound to all Revenge-of-the-Nerds here, but why do we expect professional athletes to be role models for young people? Athletic excellence, like artistic excellence, is an amoral achievement. Any asshole can do it. (In fact being an asshole is far from a hindrance to achievement and fame.) Also, the guy just won eight freaking Olympic gold medals. And he has to know, on some level, that this is as good as his life will ever get. That’s got to be a hard thing to grapple with at age twenty-three. Does anyone seriously expect him not to celebrate/console himself by getting fucked up? It seems to me that we as a nation are missing the real moral here, which is that this Olympic record-setting athlete smokes pot and was not immediately transformed into a subhuman junkie--or, worse, as the teen propaganda always warns (knowing that this is the worst imaginable thing for its target audience) A Loser. Or, as my colleague Emily Flake, a hard drinker who never misses a deadline, put it: "Being on drugs is no excuse for not getting shit done." I suspect that what gives drugs their irresistible allure for kids is less their “role models” using them than the hysterical overreactions of the most contemptible, hypocritical, censorious bullying authority-figure adults. I mean, with lame-os and squares like that trying so desperately to keep you totally ignorant about something, you know that thing has got to be fun. Hey, it was true for sex.

But see, now I’m getting all apoplectic now over something really trivial and tabloidish. This is what you get for paying attention to the news. It's just that, as someone who doesn’t have kids, doesn’t much like them, and resents having to live in a world that often seems to revolve around them, I have no patience for matters of grown-up law and policy being decided on the basis of what isn’t even actual concern for the well-being of children but rather inhibited adults’ fantasies about childhood innocence. Comedian Adam Carolla, after a visit to Europe, began referring to it as "AdultWorld," because the government trusted you to drink a beer in the park without going apeshit and running amok looting and raping.

As a cartoonist, it is my natural and proper rôle to act as a cheerleader for unrepentant libertinism and vice. But I am aware that my cartoon is read by the Impressionable Young, so let me step out of my official persona for a moment to say, in all seriousness, that drugs are to say the least something of a mixed bag, and the unfair fact is that one that is harmless and fun for your friend might turn out, because of some bullshit genetic diathesis, to be a deadly addictive poison for you. And that in any event they tend to destroy rather than enhance ambition and talent over the long haul. There is, appparently, no such thing as a neurochemical free lunch. If I were you 'd maybe lay off them at least until you graduate high school. Give your brain a chance to actually finish growing first before you begin the life's work of demolishing it. However, if you ever do achieve the ne plus ultra in your chosen field and become the idol of millions and get set up cushily for life with endorsement contracts, you have my official sanction to Do Bong Hits.

Thanks to Emily Flake for letting me steal this idea from a conversation we had over hot wings.


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